Miss Tibbit and I stood in the rain eating black raspberries off the canes in the backyard. I reached high, Miss Tibbit plucked the low ones with her front nibble teeth. Their pure, rain-washed fruitiness is soothing my stomach after a feast of lamb vindaloo and chicken xacuti, samosas and deep-fried paneer at the Taj Grill. I can hear the rain pinging on the steel frame of the scaffolding. We should be painting. Monsoon-like rains and passing lightening storms make it impossible.
The scaffolding arrived a week ago on a big rig. It traveled across country for 22 days to get here. Twenty feet of bright yellow painted tubular steel and mini-girders. So cheery. So horrifyingly high. From July 2 to July 5 we spent the daylight hours perched on Level 1 (6 feet), Level 2 (12 feet), Level 3 (18 feet) scraping, washing, priming. The husband of each neighboring household came to see. From my aerie they all looked the same: wide legged stance, arms crossed over the chest, head tilted back, mouth a little open. I think the WideEyedHousehold looks a little otherworldly up there with gangling arms and legs working on the small 2 by 6 feet platform – reaching out, over, up, to deal with the house’s overhanding soffit and decorative exposed rafters. The high roof and architectural details looked so cool (“badass” the Spouse says) when we bought the place. I didn’t think about spending days and days with them.
One set of neighbors had a party over the weekend. From my post up high I could smell the bbq, drinks, and perfume. The women’s dresses were a swirl of color. Kids laughed and played. The men kept easing around the corner of their house to peek at the scaffolding. I painted on primer during their cocktails. I painted through their dinner. I painted as they sat, idling with wine into the summer evening.
The WideEyedSpouse and I spelled each other in the high places. I don’t know what he thought about up there, but I started jealously guarding my time on Level 3. The breeze was nice. Voices faded to murmurs and traffic on the nearby Scajaquada Expressway rumbled at a deeper tone. Squirrels and birds chirping and chittering in the trees were my companions. I became nothing but arms attached to a paint scraper, or arms with a paint brush instead of a hand.
“I can’t believe you are painting your own house,” WideEyedNeighborP said. “What else are we going to do all summer?” I said, “Sit around on the patio and drink?” I think when we are done I’ll install the scaffolding among the back yard maple trees. My own industrial tree-house. It’s possible I’m becoming weird.